Tall Girl Records, 2010
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/08/2010
Marshall Chapman is one of those artists who has released a number of critically acclaimed albums but has not had the breakout commercial success they and she deserve. Now over thirty years into her career, the singer, songwriter, and author has recorded a new studio album titled Big Lonesome.
The project started as a duet album with longtime friend Tim Krekel. Things don’t work out as planned sometimes and bad things happen to good people, and so early into the planning of the project, Tim Krekel died of cancer.
Chapman carried on alone, finding the songwriting and recording process a comforting and ultimately cathartic experience. The completed album is a personal memorial for a lost friend.
She surrounds herself with a stellar group of musicians to back her vocals and rhythm guitar. Lead guitarist Will Kimbrough, drummer Casey Wood, bassist Jim Mayer, keyboardist Michael Utley, and steel guitarist and sax player Jim Hoke are all veterans and excellent sidemen who helped to make her musical visions come alive. Utley, who has produced albums for Jimmy Buffett and Roy Orbison, shares that chore with Chapman. She wrote six of the eleven tracks on this disc herself, as well as including three she composed with Tim Krekel before his death.
The other two tracks are cover songs, which reflect the overall themes of loss and remembrance well. One of the gems is her bluesy take on the old Cindy Walker country song “Going Away Party,” which was originally recorded by Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys. She nails the sense of loss and acceptance just right. She also covers the Hank Williams classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” with a throaty vocal.
The album presents mostly modern country music with some forays into a vocal blues and jazz sound. “Down In Mexico,” “I Can’t Stop Thinking about You,” “Riding With Willie,” and “Sick Of Myself” are all exceptional cuts.
Tim Krekel appears on two tracks, including the title song. It is the final live track recorded May 30, 2009 that brings the album to a fitting conclusion, being that it is the last time the two performed together.
Big Lonesome is a fine addition to the Marshall Chapman catalogue and serves as a fitting memory of a lost friend.